VERSE 7:“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”

“But what things were gain to me,”–Those things by which he once had hoped to gain eternal life.

The advantages of birth, of education, and of external conformity to the Law. “I thought these to be gain; that is, to be of vast advantage in the matter of salvation. I valued myself on these things, and supposed that I was rich in all that pertained to moral character and to religion.” Perhaps, also, he refers to these things as laying the foundation of a hope of future advancement in honor and in wealth in this world. They commended him to the rulers of the nation; they opened before him a brilliant prospect of distinction; they made it certain that he could rise to posts of honor and of office, and could easily gratify all the aspirations of his ambition. Paul had natural pride in his Jewish attainments. He was the star of hope for Gamaliel and the Sanhedrin.

        GAIN: (Grk.-kerdē)—Paul uses the plural form of the word (kerdos), or “gains,” thereby stressing the many gains (the various items of privilege) he had accomplished to the standards of the Judaizers; including all possible advantages of outward status, which he had heretofore enjoyed; but notice what he said about those gains.  Things which Paul considers “gain” refers to anything which would be in his advantage.

“these I counted loss for Christ.”
Literally: “These I have counted loss because of Christ.”–They were really a disadvantage, a hindrance, even injury. In effect he is saying “I look upon them not as gain or an advantage, but as an obstacle to my salvation.”

         Paul is telling these Philippians, and the Judaizers, that the credit and respect which he  had, as being zealously attached to the Law, and to the traditions of the elders, he now counted loss for Christ; and that Christ crucified could alone profit me; for I found that it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sin.
         He had previously relied on them. He had been led by these things to an improper estimate of his own character, and he had been thus hindered from embracing the true religion, he says, therefore, that he now renounced all dependence on them; that he esteemed them not as contributing to his salvation, but, so far as any reliance should be placed on them, as in fact so much loss.

        I COUNTED (Grk.-hēgēmai)—Literally:  “I have counted.”  The word (hēgeomai) literally means “to think,” or, “to condisder.”  "I have counted for Christ's sake loss." He no longer uses the plural as in “gains;” for he counts them all but one great “loss” (Matt.16:26; Luke 9:25).

        “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and loose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt.  16:26).
        “For what is a man advantaged if he gain the whole world and loose himself, or be cast away?” (Like 9:25).

It is significant that Paul used this word in the Greek perfect tense, referring to a completed act with a continuing effect.  That is, at some time in the past he had considered all of these gains to be really losses, and he still considered them to be such; this emphasizes the continuity of it. 

      LOSS:  (Grk.-zēmia)–This Greek word has the sense of “damage.”  Paul renounced all dependence on them, sensible that dependence on them, should it continue, would cause the loss of his soul. 

         What Paul is here saying, “I thought these to be to my gain; that is, to be of vast advantage in the matter of salvation. I valued myself on these things, and supposed that I was rich in all that pertained to moral character and to religion”  I now regard them all as so much loss. They were really a disadvantage–a hindrance–an injury. I look upon them not as gain or an advantage, but as an obstacle to my salvation.”
1.      He had relied on them.

2.      He had been led by these things to an improper estimate of his own character; and,
3.      He had been thus hindered from embracing the true religion, he says, therefore, that he now renounced all dependence on them; that he esteemed them not as contributing to his salvation, but, so far as any reliance should be placed on them, as in fact so much loss.

The Judaizers must have really reacted to this!  What they considered to be so important, Paul not only considered to be loss, but he even considered to be damage in comparison to what he had in Christ.  In his reckoning, however, he considers it all a “loss” literally meaning, “a loss.”  The problem is that legal righteousness oft times gets in the way and is actually a detriment to apprehending righteousness by faith through grace.  

        FOR CHRIST: (Grk.-ton Christon)—Literally: “Because of Christ.” That is, so far as Christ and his religion were concerned, they were to be regarded as worthless. In order to obtain salvation by Him, it was necessary to renounce all dependence on these things.

What Paul is saying is that all his claims to human attainment had been destroyed on that road to Damascus some thirty years before, and his real righteousness was accomplished simply by meeting the glorified Christ. 

1.      The implication is that those who still exalt legalism have a faulty experience of Christ Himself.
2.      Their failure is not knowing the Person and work of Christ, and along with that, having a blindness relative to the grace of God, as well as their own need.
        In Paul’s case, his willingness to disregard all human attainments is summed up in the word, Christ.   When he met Christ, all other grounds for confidence were swept away.

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things
{but} loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ.”

“and I count all things {but} loss”
Literally: “I also count all things to be loss.”–Not only my Jewish privileges, but all others of every kind; with everything that men count valuable or gainful, or on which they usually depend for salvation. 

Not only those things which he had just specified, and which he had himself possessed, Paul says he would be willing to renounce in order to obtain an interest in the Savior, but everything which could be imagined. Were all the wealth and honor which could be conceived of his, he would be willing to renounce them in order that he might obtain the knowledge of the Redeemer. He would be a gainer who should sacrifice everything in order to win Christ. Paul had not only acted on this principle when he became a Christian, but had ever afterwards continued to be ready to give up everything in order that he might obtain an interest in the Savior.

        I COUNT:  (Grk.hēgoumai)–Paul uses the same word here as he used in verse 7; however, he uses it in another tense to give it a different emphasis.  In v. 7 he used it in the Greek perfect tense to refer to a decision he had made in the past–a decision that still had continuous action.  Here in verse 8 he uses the word in the Greek present tense, which emphasizes the continuous action to his present time–“I am still counting all things but loss.”

        LOSS:  (Grk.–zēmian)–He uses here the same word which he does in the Acts 27:21, when speaking of the loss which had been sustained by “loosing” (set sail) from Crete, contrary to his advice, on the voyage to Rome.

        “But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them and said, ‘Sirs, ye should have harken unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss (zēmian)– (Acts 27:21). 

        The KJV translators did great violence to this verse when they used the word “loosed” from Crete.  This is flat out mistranslation, for the Greek word  (avagesthai),  which they translated as “loosed” does not mean that at all.  The true meaning of this word is, “not to have set sail.”   Dr. David Stern, in his Jewish New Testament, renders the word as, “not set out from” Crete.  This is much closer to the literal meaning of the word.  Remember, they are in the midst of a great storm, and had been in a safe harbor in Crete, and Paul is telling them they should have listened to him and not left Crete.  In effect, Paul is saying, “I told you so.”
        The idea here seems to be, “What I might obtain, or did possess, I now regard as loss in comparison with the knowledge of Christ, even as seamen do the goods on which they set a high value, in comparison with their lives. Valuable as they may be, they are willing to throw them all overboard in order to save themselves.”

        I COUNT:  (Grk.–hegomai)—In case the Judaizers might think that Paul had changed his mind after his earlier decision, but there would be no mistaking how he felt at the present.  He had no regrets about reaching the decision that his accomplishments in Judaism were entirely worthless in comparison to what he had in Christ Jesus.  

“excellency of the knowledge”–On account of the surpassing excellency (the supereminence above them all) of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.

         This is a Hebrew expression to denote excellent knowledge. The idea is, that Paul held everything else to be worthless in comparison with that knowledge, and he was willing to sacrifice everything else in order to obtain it. On the value of this knowledge of the Savior (Eph. 3:19)–“And to know how the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”  
         Paul is referring that superior light, information, and blessedness which come through the Gospel of Jesus Christ; justification through His blood, i.e., sanctification by His Spirit, and eternal glory through His merits and intercession. These are the blessings held out to us by the Gospel, of which Jesus Christ is the sum and substance.

         THE EXCELLENCY:  (Grk.–to hyperchon)—This expression refers to that which is placed above; therefore far surpassing that with which it is compared.

         THE KNOWLEDGE:  (Grk.–tēs gnōseōs)–The “knowledge of Christ Jesus” indicates personal acquaintance; experiential knowledge as opposed to theoretical.  Because he really knows Christ as his Lord, the surpassing qualities of Christ and His salvation make any of his own claims for righteousness quite insignificant by comparison.  This personal relationship with Christ far surpassed anything that Judaism had to offer; and remember, Paul had been one of the most zealous people of his time in the Jewish faith (see Gal. 1:13-14).

“Christ Jesus my Lord”–Notice now Paul’s manner of referring to Christ:  “my Lord.”  As far as Paul was concerned, Jesus Christ was no longer just a Person who lived at a certain time in history; He was now Paul’s LORD!  As my prophet, priest, and king, as teaching me wisdom, atoning for my sins, and reigning in my heart.

“for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,”
Literally:  “For Whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things.”–Some translate this as, “for Whom I have thrown away all things”  Paul is saying,  “I have made a voluntary choice of Christ, His cross, His poverty, and His reproach; and for these I have freely sacrificed all I had from the world, and all I could expect from it.”

         Having referred to Christ as his LORD, Paul next declares, “for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things.”  Paul realized that his accomplishments in Judaism were worthless in comparison to what he had in Christ. When he became a Christian, Paul gave up his brilliant prospects in regard to this life, and everything indeed on which his heart had been placed.
1.      He abandoned the hope of honor and distinction;

2.      He sacrificed every prospect of gain or ease; and,
3.      He gave up his dearest friends, and separated himself from those whom he tenderly loved.
4.      He might have risen to the highest posts of honor in his native land, and the path which an ambitious young man desires was fully open before him.
But all this had been cheerfully sacrificed in order that he might obtain an interest in the Savior, and partake of the blessings of his faith,  he has not informed us of the exact extent of his loss in becoming a Christian. It is by no means improbable that he had been excommunicated by the Jews; and disowned by his own family.

“and do count them [but] dung,”
Literally:  “And count {them to be} trash.”–The word “dung” shows how utterly insignificant and unavailing, in point of salvation, Paul esteemed everything but the
Gospel of Jesus.

With his best things he freely parted, judging them all loss while put in the place of Christ crucified; and Christ crucified he esteemed infinite gain, when compared with all the rest. Of the utter unavailableness of anything but Christ to save the soul the Apostle Paul stands as an incontrovertible proof. Could the Law have done anything, Paul must have known it. He tried adherence to the Law, and found it vanity; he tried the Gospel system, and found it the power of God to his salvation. By losing all that the world calls excellent, he gained Christ, and endless salvation through Him. Of the glorious influence of the Gospel he is an unimpeachable witness.

        DUNG:   (Grk.–skubala)–This Greek word occurs nowhere else in the N.T. It  literally means, dregs, refuse; what is thrown away as worthless; chaff, offal, or the refuse of a table or of slaughtered animals; and then filth of any kind.  It can also mean, “manure” or even “excrement.”  This means the vilest dross or refuse of anything; the worst excrement.

The Greek word (skubala) has two meanings. 
1.      In everyday language, it was popularly derived from
(Grk.–es kunas ballō)—“to throw to the dogs” or more correctly, “that which is thrown to the dogs.”

2.      In medical language it means “excrement” (or “dung” as the KJV translates it).
So Paul is actually saying, “I found that Law and all its ways of no more use in helping me to get into a right relationship with God than the refuse thrown into the garbage heaps.  So I gave up trying to cfreate a goodness of my own.  I came to God in humble faith, as Jesus told me to do, and I found that relationship I had sought for so long.” 

         No language could express a more deep sense of the utter worthlessness of all that external advantages could confer in the matter of salvation. In the question, of justification before God, all reliance on birth, and blood, and external morality, and forms of religion, and prayers, and alms, is to be renounced, or to be esteemed as vile  in comparison with the merits of the great Redeemer.  Such were Paul's views; and we may remark, that if this was so in his case, it should be in ours. Such things can no more avail for our salvation than they could for his. We can no more be justified by them than he could. Nor will they do anything more in our case to commend us to God than they did in his.         

“that I may win Christ.”
Literally:  “That I might gain Christ.”  The word here translated as “win” in the KJV is related to the word translated as “gain” in v. 7. 

Paul considered his greatest gain/win to be  a right relationship with Christ, and no one can come into such a relationship unless he realizes he is a sinner who has fallen short of God’s glory (see Rom. 3:3).  He was not referring to working for salvation, but was contrasting what the world considers gain with what is really gain.  One gain (the one with Christ) far exceeded the other.  Paul was never satisfied with his knowledge of Christ and always craved more fellowship with Him.       

“And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness is of God by faith.”

“And be found in Him,”– That is, united to Him by a living faith.  The idea that Paul is presenting here is that when the investigations of the Great Day should take place in regard to the ground for salvation, it might be found that he was united to the Redeemer, and depended solely on His merits for salvation. 

 To be found a believer in Christ, not having my own righteousness, not trusting in anything I have done or could do, for my salvation; relying on no scheme of justification, set up either formerly by myself or by others

“not having mine own righteousness,”
Literally:  “Not having my righteousness.” That is, not relying on that for salvation. But that inward righteousness which is through faith.

This was now the great aim of Paul, that it might be found at last that he was not trusting to his own merits, but to those of the Lord Jesus.  Paul realized that a righteousness that was one’s own righteousness was really no righteousness at all.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us that, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” 

“which is of the Law,”
Literally:  “of Law.”  (Romans 10:3), –The “righteousness which is of the Law” is that which could be obtained by conformity to the precepts of the Jewish religion, such as Paul had endeavored to obtain before he became a Christian.

He now saw that no one complied perfectly with the holy law of God, and that all dependence on such a righteousness was vain. All men by nature seek salvation by the law. The Jews had set up some standard with which they mean to comply, and expect to be saved by conformity to that standard. With some, it is the law of honor, with others it may be the laws of honesty, or with others the laws of kindness and courtesy, and with others the Law of God. If they comply with the requirements of these laws, they suppose that they will be safe.  

         It is only the grace of God that shows them:
1.      How defective their standard is; or,

2.      How far they really were from complying with its demands; or,
3.      That can ever bring them from this dangerous dependence.

In his early life Paul depended on his compliance with the laws of God as he understood them, and supposed that he was safe. When he was brought to realize his true condition, he saw how far short he had come of what the law of God required, and that all dependence on his own works was vain.

“but that which is through the faith of Christ”
Literally:  “But through faith of Christ.”–That justification which is received by faith through the atonement made by Christ.  

Paul found that a right relationship with God is not based on law, but on faith in Jesus Christ.  It is not achieved by an individual but given by God; not won by work but accepted by “trust.”  In contrast to any righteousness, supposed or otherwise, which he may have had related to keeping and observing the Law of Moses, Paul praises righteousness which is perfect and completed that was accomplished not by him but for him by Jesus Christ in His Person and work.  This is reckoned to Paul’s account, not on the basis of his personal righteousness, but “by faith.”  While Paul may seem to be comparing legal righteousness with righteousness by faith and by grace, actually what he is saying is that there is no real comparison.  One is worthless in comparison to the other, which is of infinite value or worth.   Explained further by on the basis of faith as in Acts 3:16.

“the righteousness is of God by faith.”
Literally:  {Having} the righteousness of God on faith.”  God's method of justifying sinners through faith in His Son.

The righteousness which proceeds from God, or of which He is the great Source and Fountain. This may include the following things:
1.      God is the Author of Pardon-and this is a part of the righteousness which the man who is justified has.
2.      God purposes to treat the justified sinner as if he had not sinned-and thus his righteousness is of God.
3.      God is the Source of all the grace that will be imparted to the soul, making it really holy. In this way, all the righteousness which the Christian has is “of God.”

         The idea of Paul is, that he now saw that it was far more desirable to be saved by righteousness obtained from God than by his own. That which is obtained from God was perfect, glorious, and sufficient; but that which he had attempted to work out was defective, impure, and wholly insufficient to save the soul. It is far more honorable to be saved by God than to save ourselves; it is more glorious to depend on Him than to depend on anything that we can do.
         The basic thought of this passage is the uselessness of Law (any law) and the sufficiency of knowing Christ and accepting the offer of God’s grace.  In effect, Paul is saying, “Out of my own personal experience, I can tell you that the Jewish way is wrong and futile.  You will never get into a right relationship with God by your own efforts in keeping the Law.  You can get into such a right relationship only by taking Christ Jesus at His word and by accepting what God Himself offers to you.”  

         The very language Paul uses to describe the law (excrement; offal) shows the utter disgust for the Law which his own frustrated efforts to live by it had brought to him, and the joy that shines through the passage shows how triumphantly adequate he found the grace of God in Christ.  That method of saving sinners which is not of works, but by faith in Christ Jesus; and it is not restrained to any particular people, as the Law and its privileges were, but is unto all mankind in its intention and offer, and becomes effectual to them that believe; for God hath now made no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles.
         God's method of saving sinners is now shown, by the Gospel, to be through His own mercy, by Christ Jesus; neither through the Law nor with any right or claim which might result from obedience to the Law; and is evidently that which was intended by God from the beginning.